The Tundra’s “Sales Failure” Story Is A Myth

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I’ve noticed a fair amount of commentary lately about the Tundra’s status as a “sales failure,” (CNN ran an article a few days ago that I won’t link to here because it’s so stupid) and it’s shocking to me that so many otherwise smart people in the auto news industry can make such a silly argument. The Tundra’s sales definitely aren’t exemplary, but they certainly aren’t a “failure” when you consider the history of events between the Tundra’s debut in 2007 and today.

Tundra sales failure

Lazy analysis of truck sales figures leads some people to conclude that the Tundra has been a failure, but that analysis overlooks a few facts.

The worst part is, this silly story about the Tundra’s “sales failure” isn’t going away anytime soon. The Tundra plant was only running at 30% capacity in April and May, it’s only been running at 50% capacity for June, and it’s not expected to get back to 100% until August/September. That means that 2011 probably isn’t going to be a good year in terms of total Tundra sales.

Still, looking exclusively at sales figures to make a determination about the success of the Tundra is like reading a box score instead of watching the game: you get a sense of what happened, but you still miss a lot.

For starters, a Toyota sales exec and an analyst says that “[fleet] sales make up a very small percentage of overall [Tundra] sales,” something that handicaps Tundra sales figures pretty substantially. Large commercial fleet sales make up a significant portion of “domestic” truck sales, so much so that it’s inaccurate to compare Tundra sales figures to F-150, Silverado/Sierra, or Ram 1500 sales without first adjusting for fleet.

Second, the Tundra performed at or near expectations in 2007, and was on track for a nice 2008 when a financial catastrophe walloped truck sales. Almost overnight, Americans and Canadians stopped buying new trucks. This was especially bad timing for Toyota, as new models tend to sell best in their first and second years of production. Were it not for a financial catastrophe, the Tundra could have sold another 200k units (or so) and analysts wouldn’t be talking about disappointing sales.

Third, we have the Japanese earthquake/tsunami that hit Toyota just as truck demand was starting to come back. 2011 is going to be a skinny year for Toyota because they simply won’t be able to build enough trucks to satisfy consumer demand in the peak summer selling months. While Toyota will make a push for sales in the 4th quarter, it’s not going to be easy to make up for lost time.

Finally, when someone says the Tundra is a “sales failure,” they’re glossing over triumphs like top-notch IIHS and NHTSA safety ratings, top ratings for quality and reliability from JD Power and Consumer Reports, and industry-leading resale value and “overall value” awards from Intellichoice.

If being at the top of the pack in terms of quality, durability, value, and safety constitutes “failure,” we’re all in trouble.

Of course, maybe Toyota is going about this thing all wrong…maybe they should build half the Tundra in Mexico where labor costs are low, dump Tundras for 75 cents on the dollar to large commercial fleets, and then beg people to buy a new Tundra every September (they could call it “Toyota Truck Month,” LOL).

Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. Mickey says:

    I agree this year shouldn’t be used in any analysis. That wouldn’t be just the Tundra in trouble. That would take most of Toyota vehicles for that matter. That states where CNN is. Lazy research shows an inept news crew. Maybe that’s why I don’t watch CNN. Amazing, I can say the least.

  2. Mickey says:

    I guess sale ill go down for the Raptor also. This is also on youtube.

  3. Josh says:


    Wait wait wait Ford Raptors have a weak frame?…AHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! you telling me the guys who have been calling the Tundra frames junk for years is having bent frame issues…AHAHAHAHAHAHA! Im in tears laughing so hard! +1 for the Tundra!

  4. Mickey says:

    Josh I’m telling you the frames are weak and they bent. They have fixes by either welding a box frame for it and strightened it out. Costly procedure I’m sure. Or they can bolt on the metal on the frame. So their box frame is only for the cab.

  5. Josh says:


    I’m finding it funny that the one company that has been talking so much trash about the Tundra’s frames (via their youtube video’s) for years is now having a frame issue. And the fact how much Ford has overblown what the Raptor can supposedly do (also via youtube and their commercials). Now all we have to do is sit back and watch the Eco boost’s to start having failing turbo’s and the circle will be complete. lol

    I love my Tunrda!

  6. Justin says:

    As for the supposed “weak frames”.

    You guys are so out of touch with the law of physics. Sorry guys, those incidents were user abuse. Even professional baja racers have admitted their $100K+ trophy trucks would have broke in driven like those idiots drove their Raptors.

    And please, can anyone show me where a Tundra could do as well (heck come close), and come out unscathed after the abuse those owners put on those Raptors.

    Oh yeah, you can’t.

    Until you can, no Tundra, or full-size truck owner should say anything. We know people can run their mouth, just look at this thread, but too few are willing or able to prove it.

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